What's a good (preferably free) on-screen ruler for Windows? I just need to measure a few things in pixels on the screen. I need it to be flexible (easily resizable and able to measure both vertically and horizontally), and hopefully not look like crap. A quick Google search revealed a ton of different applications, and I don't want to try every single one.


I have been using Ruler from Codeplex for ages now (I removed the old link because it was considered harmful by Chrome). Very easy to use, a simple program with simple options:

  • Always on top
  • The vertical and horizontal measurement
  • Option to show ToolTip for smaller dimensions.
  • Resizable by dragging
  • Can open multiple instances
  • No installation required

Forked and improved on GitHub and enhanced https://github.com/andrijac/ruler

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    hmm.. only pixels, can't change units of measurement. No free rotate. Looks great, but I can't use it. – Robert Mark Bram Feb 12 '13 at 0:35
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    I have forked the code from codeplex to github github.com/andrijac/ruler – Andrija Apr 23 '14 at 10:44
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    @StevenLu Resize-while-moving-the-ruler is exactly one of the reasons I have forked the project on github and added Lock feature github.com/andrijac/ruler :) HTH – Andrija Oct 12 '14 at 6:45
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    I just visited the URL for Ruler. The Chrome browser gave me a scary warning: "The site ahead contains harmful programs Attackers on archive.codeplex.com might attempt to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience (for example, by changing your homepage or showing extra ads on sites you visit).". I have no further information about the site. – Keith Thompson Jan 20 '20 at 22:11
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    @KeithThompson you are right, seems like Codeplex is considered harmful. I'll strike out the link. – Andrija Jan 22 '20 at 8:55

I recommend using PicPick.

It has a ruler (horizontal or vertical) with custom units, but also others very usefull tools like screencapture, colorpicker, magnifier, angular ruler and other tools.

  • I don't see how you can change units on the ruler.. – Robert Mark Bram May 16 '14 at 2:48
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    Got it: (long) right click on the ruler - then when you release the mouse button you see the context menu with units on it. – Robert Mark Bram May 16 '14 at 3:06
  • I had this installed and didn't realize it had all these other awesome features. – MVCylon Jul 29 '16 at 15:05
  • I also had PicPick installed and didn't know it has a ruler. What a lifesaver, thanks! – Hallaghan Mar 29 '18 at 13:24

I really like A Ruler for Windows (freeware) - why, well I wrote it! ;-)

Seriously, it: measures pixels, horizontal / vertical, maginifies your primary screen under the ruler up to 4x, has an automatic center line (which you can toggle on and off), allows you to put ticks on either long edge, you can resize by it dragging an end, comes with four skins (woodgrain, stainless steel, clear plastic see thru, yellow construction) and you can add your own skins, works across multiple screens.



  • I meant to add this comment a million years ago, but I forgot. The lack of a rotation feature makes the ruler a lot less useful than it could be. Even in 2010, it needed that feature, but I can't recommend the app to anyone in 2020 now that so many other rulers exist with a rotate feature. – Anthony Aug 20 '20 at 20:43
  • FWIW the tool now has a rotate option, but the magnify option is broken (you can magnify, but not de-magnify unless the entire ruler is visible (so if longer than your screen-resolution it won't allow changing), requiring an Alt+F4 to close out the application. – Oskar Austegard Jan 7 at 17:22
  • just to clarify, the program has always been able to rotate between vertical and horizontal, it just can't rotate in between (for example 30 degrees). To demagnify if the ruler is off the screen you don't need to Alt+F4 (which will end the program), rather just press the escape key and the magnification will be canceled. – Rob Feb 5 at 21:18

I just use Paint.

When you move the mouse around, it displays the pixes of wherever the mouse is on the status bar, even if it's not in the foreground. With a 2000x2000 image you can resize the window to any shape.

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    This unfortunately appears not to work with Windows 7. – dgo Jul 2 '14 at 1:33
  • Also does not appear to work with Windows 10 – Oskar Austegard Jan 7 at 17:17
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    @OskarAustegard It's still working for me on Windows 10. The status bar can be hidden, so make sure that's visible under View -> Status bar. – Grant Jan 8 at 14:41

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